How to Create a Stockpile With $5 a Week

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Want to build a stockpile but don’t have much money on your grocery budget to spare? Here are some tips on how to create a stockpile with just $5 per week!

How to Build a Stockpile for $5 per week

How to Create a Stockpile with $5 Per Week

One of the questions I seem to get asked most often is…. “I want to build a stockpile but how do I find the money to do it?”

Can you spare $5 a week? If not…what can you cut out of your week to find $5 to help build your stockpile? Just how important is having a stockpile to you? Can you make it a priority over something else in your life that costs $5 a week?

Let’s chat for a minute about having a stockpile…..

Building a Stockpile

–Learn Everything About Buying in Bulk Here!

I’m no zombie prepper. I’m not prepping for the end of the world. I’m not prepping because I think aliens are going to attack the earth and we might have to hide in bunkers until they are gone. I’m prepping to be prepared.

What if we lost our availability to go to town for groceries?

What if the prices were raised temporarily so we couldn’t afford to get the basic things we normally get?

What if our co-op truck can’t make it here and we have to go without ordering our groceries for a few months?

What would happen in the event of a job loss where we would need to save as much money as possible to pay other bills?

In the event of any of those situations, having a small stockpile on hand is a good idea.

Can you imagine having only a few days worth of food in your home at a time? I just can’t picture that! In rural South Dakota where we live we have a pretty good chance of being snowed in or stuck at home for much longer than 3 days, so having less than 3 days worth of food would just be unsafe for us.

Ok, back to building a stockpile with that $5 a week….Before you start this challenge, keep this in mind. Be realistic about your stockpile. Don’t stock up on things that your family can’t or won’t be able to eat. If there is a week where you aren’t going to buy what’s planned, just buy double of something that you definitely can use from another week.

Building a Stockpile

Building a Stockpile Weekly Buying Guide

Make sure to spend no more than $5 per week buying the item listed. Before you buy, also make sure you have proper food storage containers for everything.

Week 1 – Spend $5 on Rice
Week 2 –  Spend $5 on Beans
Week 3 –  Spend $5 on Sugar
Week 4 –  Spend $5 on Salt
Week 5 –  Spend $5 on Baking Soda
Week 6 –  Spend $5 on Milk Powder
Week 7 –  Spend $5 on Dried Onion
Week 8 –  Spend $5 on Dried Garlic
Week 9 – Spend $5 on Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Week 10 –  Spend $5 on Baking Powder or Yeast
Week 11 –  Spend $5 on a Whole Grain
Week 12 –  Spend $5 on anything else

Now comes the real challenge….just how much of each of these items can you get for just $5 a week? Do your very best to make that amount stretch as far as possible!

Are you ready to join me on this challenge? By the end of 12 weeks, you aren’t going to have the biggest, most impressive stockpile there ever was, but you will have a nice amount of basics set aside for an emergency time. Of course, a full stocked stockpile will have more items than this (hopefully you will be able to preserve some meats, fruits, and veggies too!) but this list will build a great basic foods stockpile.

To help keep you motivated, here is a fun chart that you can print out and keep in your pantry or in your kitchen to keep track of your progress.

Building Your Stockpile (free printable checklist)

Not sure where to store your stockpile? Make sure to check out these Small Space Storage Ideas.


This blog post on How to Create a Stockpile was originally posted on Little House Living in March 2014. It has been updated as of April 2020.

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  1. This is awesome! I have been trying to add to the pantry, but it’s been in a pell-mell sort of way, so this will be great!

  2. I think your suggestions are great. I am constantly amazed at how many people I know that go to the store (costly) and purchase 3 to 5 days of food. Yikes. I am like you, a what if person. Whatever we have as far as a stockpile I would more than willing to share with others but having water, basic staples and enough on hand for a couple weeks helps my security gland. Smile.

  3. I would love to do this. Then I can also start to build a bigger stock pile of other items.

    Thanks for doing this.

    1. Right now, I use ziploc bags inside a used 5 gallon bucket. I haven’t ordered new lids yet but I can get used buckets at my local grocer from the deli.

    2. I get icing buckets, with lids, from the local bakery for $1. I use them for all of my food storage, cleaning buckets, homemade laundry detergent, etc.

      1. We use washed out and dried screw on jugs, like a two-liter soda bottle. We store rice, beans, oats, etc. We have been storing flour in large half gallon mason jars. Keeps everything out and they stay fresh.

        1. You can also use handwarmers in airtight storage containers. You activate them and toss them in before sealing the container. The handwarmers are cheap and they use up the available oxygen which keeps the food fresher longer and keeps pests like weavels that may have gotten mixed in from living and destroying your supply.

  4. I’m in! We just moved into a new apartment, and our stockpile is basically gone. This is a great way to get things back on track!

  5. I think this is a great challenge. I have a stock pike, but I often forget the basics. I have recently found powdered buttermilk. It needs to be refrigerated once opened but personally this will be something I will add to my stockpile. Thanks again for this challenge.

  6. Love this list! With a large family it’s hard to add to our storage. Thank you! Do know where there is a list of other supplies a family should stock pile? Thanks again.

  7. Loving your posts! Have a question, maybe this isn’t the correct place to ask, but I can’t find your blog other than Facebook. There are BIG rumors about upcoming produce shortages due to weather in CA. I have a small patio urban garden. What do you suggest are the MAIN veggies or plants to grow for my family.

  8. I love this site! It is my “go to” above all the others out there! It is so practical and I love the recipes! Thanks for all the posts! It’s a jem!

  9. Another question I’m making bone broth, how many batches of broth do you think I can get from the same bones? They are from a grass fed non hormone nor antibiotic beef.

    1. I don’t make much beef broth so I’m not sure about that one. I know which a whole chicken though I can make at least 10-15 pints of broth.

  10. I love this approach. Whenever I start researching how to build my stockpile, I get overwhelmed so quickly. Thank you for breaking this down and making it fun!

  11. I love this article. I have built my extras with an extra $10 a week( large family ). I also use coupons which helped me a bunch.

  12. Great idea on stocking the pantry but just doing it a bit at a time and not have excess of this and none of that in case of an emergency of some type!!

  13. I’m in!!! I think this is a wonderful idea!! I already have a good bit of rice, but will stock up on maybe some organic specialty rices that I haven’t bought for awhile, and we most definitely need milk powder and cocoa powder, we actually have used up our ‘winter stockpile’ of both items this winter, just using my last tub of cocoa now, my youngest daughter loves to make homemade cocoa!! 🙂

  14. I’m excited to get the basics stored up! My new house has a large cold storage area all ready for me to use. Yay!

  15. I’m excited for this challenge; thanks for the opportunity, Merissa! Assuming one or two items are already fulfilled, is a similar item in its place acceptable?

  16. $5/week is doable — one bit at a time, several cans at a time, or boxes at a time. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. I’m excited for this challenge! I’ve read many articles this week talking about how the price of various foods are expected to rise this year. Hopefully if I can build up a decent stockpile, I will then be able to pay a little extra later for some of those other things we need. Thanks!

  18. I’m going to give it a try. I have one bucket with a lid from the grocery store that I can put somethings in. Thanks for putting this up for us.


    1. I hit a dead end where buckets are concerned. The supermarket isn’t allowed to give us their used buckets, due to “health restrictions”. I think it’s because of the covid. I’ll just get them at the hardware store; I’m sure they couldn’t be too expensive.

  19. You are so right that people should be prepared in normal life,too. There can be simply situations, that you’re not able to go shopping because of storm, because of sickness in family… – not to mention bigger problems that can happen.
    Actually over here we have official precept to have well abide food and also medicine and other supplies at least for 7 days -even if you live in the middle of the city.
    During the years I have found it good -there has been sickness, there has been lack of cash, when it has been smoothing to have assurance I am having supplies to feed children.
    Your idea of $5 a week is great, I will follow your journey and wish you best of luck.

  20. I am so excited about this challenge. I just cleaned out my pantry for only whole foods and this will help me get some basics for the weeks that money is tight.

  21. I’ve just come across your blog this week and am loving it. The title Making the Most with what you Have is so apt. I live in a large rural town in Australia. We bought our large suberban house with in ground pool but a tiny paved courtyard and side lawn for the dogs. We originally wanted to buy average but couldn’t find anything in our budget. Even with 5 children I now wish we had gone with the “it’s too small house” with land. Well that may happen someday but for now I’ve decided to make the most of what I have and grow some veggies in our small garden bed and make even more stuff from scratch. I’m in for the stockpile challenge though I do think food is more expensive here. We currently spend as much on groceries as we do our large mortgage. I used to have a modest stockpile in my large laundry cupboards but then the price of food went up and it became depleted. One question though. Once you have your stockpile what do you do with it. Keep it for a disaster or gradually use it while you replenish?

    1. To grow veggies with next-to-no yard space: use old box springs propped up against a wall outdoors to trellis your sprawling plants – squash, cucumbers, zucchini, even eggplant and beans. Also hang your tomato and strawberry plants, allowing them to grow upside down. I have a friend that does both of these along with making her own compost, and she has some of the best tasting veggies I’ve ever had. It also cuts down on spoilage from bugs and animals.

  22. This is great! I would like to join but most of the items on the lists are the items we never use or have very little use.. Like dried onion and garlic.. Am I to replace those items with other important items for us or skip those weeks entirely? Also how about the money.. 5 dollars equals roughly 8 thousand Tanzanian shillings, should I convert or keep it as 5 thousand tzs instead?

  23. Also is this stockpile meant to be kept aside from the actual items you are using, I mean if you put away 5 dollar worth of beans away you start to use it right away or keep it unused? How do you make sure it does not go bad?

  24. It’s so awesome that you’ve broken it down this way, into manageable, bite sized pieces! I just donated a good portion of my stockpile to a food bank because we’re moving. I also found that when I was amassing what I thought to be a “stockpile”, I was just buying too many cleaners and health and beauty items. Now that I’ve gone natural with those things, it’s time to add vinegar to my stockpile! I can’t accept your challenge-yet. When my move is over, I’ll be right back to your page so that I can easily rebuild my stockpile in the new house!

  25. I have found over the years that the key to building a stockpile is to make a list. List the things that your family uses on a regular basis. Then try to figure up how many of each you use in a month. That gives you a basic starting point. Decide how many months worth of stockpile you want to have and then using your list buy what you need. It’s also very important to remember that things like power outages can affect how you use your stockpile. If you depend on a freezer for all your meat and veggies and the power is out for an extended time you may lose it all. How will you cook if your power is out? Do you have a hand can opener? Lots of things to think through when building a stockpile.

  26. What a good idea! We tend to try to stockpile items with what we can. There is a place that is called Railroad Salvage where I live that provides bulk flats of food. One flat of veggies is usually 4.50 or something. Yes, it’s canned, but when you are on a budget…well you do what you can.

    I LOVE the idea of a weekly stockpiling plan.

  27. This is a great list to go by. I’m having a difficult time stockpiling my gluten free flours, but we stockpile almost everything else on this list. I also stockpile canned tuna, canned fruits and veggies (because we don’t have a garden and I haven’t done much canning – yet), and canned tomatoes/sauce.

    1. I often wondered how I was going to stockpile gluten free flours and I’ve actually ended up just not doing it much. I do have a little extra of each kind I use (to make my blend) on hand but otherwise I work on stockpiling other things instead since making gluten free “bread” items isn’t part of our main diet and is more of a treat.

  28. I have always stockpiled for common sense reasons. Raising a very large family ment putting up a year’s worth of jelly when you got a windfall of fruit (wild plums & blackberries) free. I try to keep 3 mths of groceries in my pantry, as well as a weeks worth of food &water in our basement which doubles as a tornado shelter. To get started when I last moved I used part of my income tax refund to lay in adequate supplies. This lets me take advantage of special buys as I come across them. You might include pasta, beans, & dried soup mixes to your stored goods.

  29. i will be doing this but in my own little way. i am a full time student and work twice a year. pasta is on sale this week and i go past the store almost every day (50 cents/box) but i also want to add some meat. when i’m not working, food is a little scarce. i’m known to eat pasta a lot but would love to add in meat to that. and i’ll figure out what else. storing should be interesting too, my apartment is about 300 sq ft. but i will make it work!

  30. Besides having a stockpile of food, I saw on TV a program about emergency items to be used in the south in Hurricane areas and liked it. They advised each person in the household have a container or bag that includes one or 2 sets of clothing, extra socks and underware, a coat, sweater, shoes. A blanket, pillow and quilt if you like. A bag with tooth brush, tooth paste, bar of soap, towel and washcloth, hair brush, comb and other personal care items. This is so if you have an emergency—-flood, fire, hurricane, tornado what ever, you have the basics to start over with. It is to be stored close to an outside door or in another weatherproof building. If you loose everything in your home, you have something for each person to start over with. I love the idea. We have done this after watching the program.

  31. I love this idea! Question…is this $5 before or after taxes? (Want to make sure I’m following the rules!)

  32. I would like to participate, as I already do this, but not in such a formal manner. Do we have to send pictures–I don’t know how, I’m afraid.

  33. This is something of what I’ve been looking for, but I do have one suggestion With the milk powder I suggest getting the largest box and skipping it on the list each time you come back to it once more. because I have never found milk powder anywhere near $5.

  34. Looking forward to the challenge!! I’m planning on subbing either shelf stable almond milk or white vinegar for the milk powder because my son has dairy allergies and we wouldn’t use the milk powder. Now I just have to figure out where to find more storage space in my little house!

  35. Use to coupon while I raised my 4 sons as a single mom. Also did bulk buying and scratch cooking. Boys are all grown now, but i love the idea of smart shopping and reasonable stockpiling, not only for me, or my grown sons, but also if there is a family in need, I can be in a position to help.

  36. The next time that you go to the grocery store, check with the bakery and/or deli department to see if they have any food buckets. You can get them free that way and just wash them thoroughly when you get home. I do can a lot and make quite a bit from scratch. Even without a basement or a root cellar we do have a good size pantry.

  37. On five dollars a week, how many people am I stockpiling for? I have a family of seven. Should I double this?

  38. I’m definitely working on getting stocked up on stuff. One thing I’m working on is laundry soap. I have a 25 gallon tote that I’m filling up with laundry pods. I’m trying to save those while I use up all my liquid. I want to get stocked up on the pods because you know for a fact you’re getting one loads worth of soap. It’s hard to measure with liquid.

    1. Mark your liquid soap lid on the outside with a permanent marker. This way you can measure precisely each laundry load.

  39. I try to keep a stocked pantry already but I love a challenge and am going to do this along with you. Money is tight here and has been for a while but I feel this challenge will open my eyes a bit more too.

  40. I am in! after A long winter I am running low on allot of the basic staples, Thanks for helping to make it a doable frugal way to refurbish or start a stock pile of necessary Items and for other to learn this basic tool to help them. cant wait to get started 🙂

  41. After a rather harsh winter, we definitely need to re-stock! Thank you for making this DOable!

  42. We have always stocked up and our pantry usually is full. Our scenario was one of our family members found out their student loan went up from 50 a month to 500. Needless to say they were frantic and didn’t have enough money for groceries. I had them come over and gave them grocery bags and told them to help themselves. You never know when there will be a need out there and what a way to bless another family !

  43. Loving the ides for this starting (or building) a beginning stockpile. We are about to move and will be starting our pantry from scratch. This is a great way to do it. I will definitely be joining you in this!

  44. This is great but I need idea to make all meals no or low sodium ,only 2000mg per day ,my hubby has congestive heart failure ,a diabetic ,pancreatic cancer

    1. Herbs will make the biggest difference. They work great to replace the tcgz flavor lost by not using salt.

    2. Bummer, Judy! If I could give your beloved husband a gift, one gift, I’d give him the gift of health. I’m not God, of course, so I can’t do that. I haven’t His power; only He does. I will pray for you both, though. If I may, I’ll keep a sharp eye out for ideas you can use.

  45. Well last week I got 4 kg of rice for 6 bucks, so this week I got 4 kg of sugar for 4 bucks because sugar was on sale and it was a happy coincidence that the price also made my numbers work out! I will do beans next week to get back on track. :0)

  46. Thanks for this wonderful idea. I already have a few of the items you suggest for the first couple weeks so I am very excited to “play” along. I absolutely LOVE your blog. You are living the way My husband always hoped that we would. We plant our own garden and I voraciously can and jam every year. We do this among other “make-do” processes to stretch our money. <3

  47. I was happy to see that I’ve already taken care of many of these items! But I am going to work on this with a few substitutions. That much baking powder would expire on me (I have some rather flat biscuits to prove it!) while we buy rice in 20 pound sacks. It’s a great deal that way. I also tend to stockpile pasta while it’s on sale. It is a big staple in our house. What’s cool about your timing though is that I have a neighbor who comes to me to learn how to shop. I can use this list (and the weeks that I’ve already filled my quota) to help her out. Five dollars is a small enough amount to help others as well.

  48. Thanks for a great guide! I’m moving my family to North Dakota right now so I know we’ll need to keep a good stockpile in case the freeway is closed this winter!

  49. I’ve been a stock piler for a while and we have a huge family. I keep no less than 100 lbs each of flour, rice, sugar, oats, salt, and dried milk on hand at all times. I keep buckets of pasta and dehydrate most of our garden harvest which I keep in vacuum sealed Mason jars. This includes herbs and spices.

    1. Yes, flour is a great basic item to stockpile 🙂 If you want to store it for a while you can preserve it best either in the freezer or in an air tight container (so bugs can’t get in).

  50. I know this post is a couple months old, but i’m just now getting back into trying to blog again and following people but this is a very helpful and very simple way to build your stock pile I moved to a big city from a smaller city and it snows here. Luckily my husband is working in an industry that he will always have work (he does pest control) but when the winter months come it will be hard for me to go to the store in the snow with 2kids (and one on the way) i’ve always wanted to have a stockpile also and got overwhelmed at how to do it and where to even start, so this post is very realsitic and very simplistic at reaching our goals. So I just want to thank you for sharing, tremendous help.

  51. I would need some recipes for unsweetened chocolate. Milk powder is really expensive and doesn’t last long. I’d suggest sharing that with someone else and using it ongoing for cooking.

  52. hi, I like reading your posts. And a stock ultrasounds good, but also time consuming. I work and coming home and making something from scratch each night. The kids usually make their own dinnerand lunch while iI sleep. I saw the muffin Mix, dry recipe. Anything else? My kids won’t eat beans or rice. It will sit in fridge and rot, they choose to starve

    1. I buy pallets of canned goods from costco. Tomato sauce can be turned into so many yummy sauces! Cream of soups, chicken/beef/veggie stock, pasta, different types of rice, etc.

  53. I love this post and find it really encouraging! I recently wrote a post about how to buy one week of food for one person for $10 now that I am reading this post I realize that these items could also be frozen or put in the pantry as stockpile items for lean months! I would love to hear what you guys think!

  54. I love this method of stocking up! I did something similar just when I found out we were expecting our first child about this time last year. Each pay day I would take a set amount of money and buy pantry staples, items that could be frozen, household items, personal care products, and baby items. I really started stockpiling when I found out my maternity leave would be unpaid. Its a really good thing I did too because about a month before our son arrived, my hubby was in hit and run motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk until after surgery, and without a paycheck for almost three months. Prepaying bills and stockpiling is the only way we survived three months without a paycheck!

  55. This is a good ideal. For those of us the collect cans and bottles can take five dollars from the money we get from recycling to do our stock pile. Which will make our items free.

  56. I have things stored in weird places, too…an end table in my living room is an old shortning can. It’s full of rice, flour, sugar, etc. I have a wooden tray on top of the can lid so I can lift off the tray with the lamp, etc, on it to get into the can. Another tall can by the kitchen has ramen noodles and some other light weight stuff in it. When our house burned in 2010, we had food stored in the cabin that had been there for 20 years in glass jars…flour, rice, corn meal, sugar, vinegar – all of it was still good. I have things in a storage building (canned food, flour in glass jars, dried vegetables in glass jars (and food in an old freezer that is out there). You can store a LOT in small spaces. I even have things under my bed. I live “20 miles from nowhere”, so it’s nice to have food on hand if the road floods or there is heavy snow!

  57. The problem comes with the foods becoming outdated and what to store them in to stay fresh. Can you help out.

  58. Some of my favorite pantry items are salsa, canned/dry beans, rice, assorted canned meats, oatmeal, honey, canned brown bread, pb and J, and tang (which has vitamin C). Salsa is actually my #1 favorite pantry item. Salsa is a great base for chili, chili mac, beans and rice, etc. I use the things I stock up on and I gravitate towards ingredients that are easy to throw together. It’s important to include some foods that can be eaten without a heat source and do not require water to prepare.

  59. Good post. Especially for the start of Autumn now. For most of us in the USA, not knowing what kind of winter we’ll have makes stockpiling even more than a necessity. But.. $5.00 isn’t going to get you much. Even if you buy generic/no name staples. $10 ~ $15 would make more of a dent into your stockpile. Always have flour, salt ,sugar, dried eggs and yeast on hand to make bread. A simple meal of soup with be like a feast with homemade bread or rolls to fill in the corners.

  60. Gonna give a try at your mayo recipe…….cant wait to try it……i’m sure its better than what they have at the groc. store…..

  61. Our most recent use of our stockpile came when both my husband and I had Covid. This started at the end of March. We are retired senior citizens, and we quarantined for about 13 days from our first positive tests. We also felt badly for about three days before that. We never had to worry about food, groceries, pet food, or medication because we had stockpiled those items.

    We also had alternative plans if we ran out of something. We did run out of dog food for our chihuahua, but I had the ingredients in the pantry and the freezer to make more. Since her food included frozen rotisserie chicken, rice, fresh chopped carrots, and minced dehydrated green beans, she was quite happy. We stretched out milk by using canned evaporated milk.

    I stockpile more for the “Life happens” scenarios. Even though this article was written years ago, I think that you can very slowly, but steadily, build a good stockpile on $5 per week. There are very good suggestions in here.